kitchen-cleaningI love a good routine. Perhaps it’s my natural bent toward organization battling back against the chaos of a busy household, but having certain procedures in place helps maintain my sanity and whip my never-ending to-do list back into submission.

For example, I always make my bed immediately after getting up and before staggering to the bathroom. I tend to pray while washing my face and brushing my teeth and I don’t leave my room until I’m dressed and makeup is in place because I never know if or when I’ll get another chance to cover up the dark circles. I start a load of laundry based on my rotating schedule then head to the kitchen to listen to a business podcast while I pack lunches, load the dishwasher from any stragglers due to evening teenager snacks, and tackle one of the housecleaning chores. By the time other family members are up, I’m already putting the laundry into the dryer, setting out whatever frozen meat I need to thaw for supper, and turning my brain toward the day’s work priorities.

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Why do it the same way every weekday? By sticking to the routine, I’ve made sure that I’m physically ready for the day and all the basic family needs are taken care of including meals, clean clothes, and a semi-cleanish house. And in the process, I’ve also reserved my limited brain power for the more stressful decisions and issues to come as I head out the door to meetings or into my home office to stare at my computer screen crafting a new story. It’s the same reasoning behind always putting my car keys, purse, and coat in the same spot every time I enter the house, because I don’t want to waste time or energy searching for them. (Trust me, on the days I get interrupted in the middle of my routine, I forget all kinds of things including putting supper into the crockpot and even have to re-wash mildewy clothes that never made it out of the washer.)

But a good routine comes in handy with a business and work life too. Some use the first few hours of the work day for their M-I-T (most important task) and refuse to check email until right before or after lunch. Others set a timer and knock out miscellaneous correspondence first thing before diving into a bigger project. Some schedule all of their errands or meetings on a single day of the week. Many use email templates to respond to frequent requests or questions. Others send all calls to voice mail during certain hours and then set aside a block of time to return all calls rather than get frequently interrupted.

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Health routines are also important no matter what the rest of your day looks like. A multi-vitamin with breakfast. A large refillable water bottle that must be consumed before lunch and another before quitting for the day. Parking further away from the entrance and taking the stairs. Doing lunges or squats at the top of every hour. Keeping a set of hand weights under your desk and doing sets of bicep curls while waiting for the laptop to boot up. Pacing around the room or at least standing up when returning phone calls. Nutritious snacks stocked for those mid-afternoon munchies. An after-dinner walk with the family or family dog. A regular bedtime.

So if a good routine can be powerful to help us accomplish more of the things we’d like to get done, how can we develop them strategically? First, list all the tasks to be done throughout the day and look for patterns in locations or task type. For example, since I had to walk past the washing machine to get from my bedroom to the kitchen anyway, it made sense to pause a minute to start a load of laundry. While in the kitchen packing lunches, it was easy to also load the dishwasher and plan the evening meal.

Next, some recommend replacing a bad habit with a good habit. Rather than drinking multiple cans of soda at my desk, put a colorful water bottle on the coaster instead. Rather than falling into a long post-lunch unproductive slump, go for a walk or plan a twenty-minute power nap to recharge the brain. Rather than a candy-jar on the corner of the desk, try a stash of roasted almonds instead.

Last, others also recommend pairing a new habit with an existing one. Do you always start the day with a cup of coffee? Perhaps you move your coffee location to your favorite recliner and use that time to read your Bible or a devotional. Because I sit so much during the day and wanted to intentionally walk more, I started checking email on my iPad while pacing the room and found that I could read others things too while walking.

Routines can become powerful habits that free the creative energy of our minds toward other tasks. Some tasks, though, may be professionally done by real experts, such as Fast 24 Hour Locksmith North Las Vegas – Top Master Locksmith.

What about you? What routines do you have in place? What are the benefits of a routine? Any downside? Any changes you’d like to make to your existing routines?

The Power of a Routine
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